Welcome to the first official pop column of 2019! The holiday may have shortened the work week, but we’ve still got plenty of great new music to help us ring in the new year. It’s only fitting that Lizzo released a new song this week. The Minneapolis rapper/singer put out some excellent singles last year, but she’s poised to break big in 2019. I’m calling it now — “Juice” will be a huge hit.
We’ve also got new music from some great indies like Frances Cone and Jada, Miguel guesting on a Benny Blanco track, and a whole collection of new music from Bad Bunny. Many of the artists in this week’s column don’t fit neatly into one genre box, but in 2019, we should embrace the stuff that transcends outdated definitions of what pop sounds like. Every Monday, Uproxx will round out the very best pop releases from the week. We’re off to a great start.
Rozes, “Halfway There”
Rozes is perhaps best known for providing vocals on The Chainsmokers‘ early-career hit “Roses,” but Rozes’ new single is a showcase for her solo talent. “Halfway There” is a fight song, with lyrics that empathize with a struggle for empowerment. Rozes’ powerful voice is full of tenacity — “Halfway There” was chosen as the official anthem for the 2019 Women’s March, and I can’t think of a more perfect song to blast while people take to the streets to march for equality.
Benny Blanco, Feat. Calvin Harris And Miguel, “I Found You/Nilda’s Story”
Do you know an easy way to make a greater track even better? Add Miguel. The original version of “I Found You” was featured in this column when it was released, but Blanco and Harris released an alternate version featuring Miguel’s vocals instead of Harris’. Miguel amplifies the quiet beauty of the song, turning the club anthem into a sprawling, tender ballad.
Along with the re-recorded track, the trio released a video featuring documentary-style footage of Nilda, a Honduran refugee who escaped violence to find a better life. The track benefits While They Wait, an initiative that is fundraising to help refugees and their families.
Up-and-coming Danish singer-producer Jada (real name Emilie Mølsted) released a couple of excellent singles last year, and she’s back to grace 2019 with the sparkling, immaculately produced “Lonely.” Her voice is a bit reminiscent of Rita Ora’s, and Jada also shares Ora’s capacity for dance-through-your-sadness bops. Over a cool, tinkling electronic beat, Jada anticipates her lover leaving. But despite the abject subject matter, “Lonely” glitters with joy. Look out for Jada — you’ll be hearing about her everywhere in 2019.
Let this be the year of Lizzo. I mean, every year has been the year of Lizzo — the singer has a passionate fan following and unbeatable social media presence, and it’s impossible to leave one of her live shows without the biggest smile on your face. She has a golden touch, making everyone who hears her effervescent rap-pop into an immediate fan.
But in 2019, I hope everyone listens to Lizzo. “Juice” is an incredible single to kick off 2019, loud and confident and full of joy. Some of the most popular pop and hip-hop has taken a turn for the melancholy — I love Shawn Mendes and Khalid, but sometimes pop radio needs a little more cheer. Lizzo acknowledges that the world outside is sometimes ugly, but she proposes a different alternative. We can dance through anything.
Frances Cone, “Late Riser”
In two weeks, indie pop duo Frances Cone will release their first full-length album since 2013. The album’s title track, “Late Riser,” is gorgeously intricate, with every melody and lyric full of care and dedication to the craft. The track begins with mellow harmonies by Christina Cone and Andrew Doherty, building to anthemic, soaring catharsis.
Bad Bunny, “Tenemos Que Hablar”
Bad Bunny can do anything. The Puerto Rican singer helped take “I Like It” to the top of the charts (and our list of the best songs of the year), conquered the radio again with Drake on “MIA,” and dropped an album on Christmas Eve just because he could. It’s hard to believe X 100PRE is Bad Bunny’s first studio album, with how sophisticated its production values are and how confident he is as a songwriter and musician.
“Tenemos Que Hablar” is the kind of song you have to hear to believe. It’s a masterful mix of pop-punk guitar riffs, a melodic and catchy chorus, and trap beats, and Bad Bunny juggles all these disparate sounds like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Technically, the album came out a few weeks ago now, but “Tenemos Que Hablar” is great enough to merit some rule-bending.